Sunday, July 25, 2010


 At the cabin the other day, Beve came up with quite the sharing question: 'What were your best and worst jobs--(and the best can't be the one you have now)?' And there was a very, very wide range of answers, about as wide a range as those gathered.  Cleaning up chicken poop made the worst list, as working as a female in a good old boys system.  Being an oncology nurse made the best list along with working at a sports camp for a summer (which all three men did together at least one year).  But this morning I realized that I had completely left out the most important job of my life, the best one, the one I know I was created for, even though sometimes I've also found it the hardest, even, in singular moments, the worst.

I speak, of course, about the job of motherhood.  Today marks the quarter-century mark of my being a mother.  At about 8:30 pm that long ago day, I met the large, already-half-grown baby who instantly changed my life.  Though some would argue that my motherhood actually began nine months before (and I'd gladly join them), the minute she began to breathe outside of me something changed within me forever.  Never again would I wonder what she'd look like, what sex she'd be, who she'd be.  From that moment on, she was the child I wanted. She (and her brother and sister after her) was the standard by which all babies were measured--their inherent cuteness, their essential baby-ness all lined up against who she was, how she was--and all found wanting, of course.  I learned almost instantly this plurality: that she could make be crazy by not sleeping, then not obeying or not whatever, but was also, to my love-clouded eyes, completely perfect.  It's hard to explain how this can be, but I still understand that it's true.  I see my children quite objectively--see their flaws, their weaknesses, acknowledge their sins--yet also know somehow that they are the most amazing, beautiful, perfect people ever created.  This plurality, I think, is how the best of parents feel about their children.  And the best of parents, I hope, work hard not to admit it most of the time.  At least I do.

That small wonder who made me a mother is 25 today.  25 on the 25th, making this her golden birthday.  She's out celebrating by mowing lawns with her daddy, the same tall man who held her before I did.  The one who had to drive away from us ten hours after her birth, and cried to have to. This is the man who used to toss her in the air, carry her on her shoulders, and play basketball with her before his knees gave out.

She's come a long ways from that tiny bundle, that little bird with her mouth wide open hungry for only one thing. The older she's grown the more hungry she's become, it seems to me.  Hungry for God, hungry for her own life, hungry for whatever God has in store for her own life.  And the older she's grown the more I've had to loosen my grip on that life.  Where I once held tightly, controlled practically everything, now I mostly sit in awe.  

She's changed a great deal from this baby, of course.  But I think she's changed us more.  Beve's hair is gray, my face is wrinkled.  We've put on a few dozen pounds between us.  When I look at these young people holding this child, it's hard to imagine we didn't know she'd be this beautiful, mature, organized, responsible young woman.  I can't look at that child (who just seconds later was putting sand in her mouth--I know, there's a photo to prove it!) and see the woman she's become.  No more than I can look at the parents and see how she has changed their lives. But I feel it.  I live it.  Being a mother is the best job I've ever had.  Yes, sometimes I've been sleepless with worry over one or more of my children.  Sometimes I've sat in hospital waiting rooms praying for one of them (though, oddly, never this one).  There have been days when Beve and I have finally drug ourselves into bed and wondered why we hadn't just had cats.  But we only ask that question because we can, because we've had the inexpressible joy of knowing this baby-grown-to-woman and her siblings.  Yes, just plain knowing them.  For twenty-five years, the best job we've ever had.

Happy Birthday, E.  Thank you for making life so golden for us.

1 comment:

E said...

Thanks Mumsey! :)